Part One: For Authors on a Budget: An Indie Author Shares Marketing and Promotion Experiences from FREE and up to $100

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Writing the Books

I love to write. I’ve self-published my work on Amazon, including Dog Days of Karma and Equi Knocks of Karma, the first two Carr – Maah Consulting mystery/paranormal novels; A Pink Zombie, with a Mist, a Shaken, Not Stirred, mystery/horror adventure; and Murder Takes a Dare, Mayhem Takes a Dare, and Arson Takes a Dare, the first three books in the Takes a Dare mystery series. I’ve also published Gimlet, a collection of short stories, and contributed to May the Fourth (Be With You), stories across time and space.

I’ve worked hard to ensure the best quality, error-free product, presented with great covers. I go over the drafts many times, on a search-and-destroy mission against typos, missing words, and other errors. I even read it aloud, to the cat’s confusion. I’ve shared the work with my lovely betas, two sweet, elderly sisters in Florida, who enjoy collaborating on their suggestions for me. I’ve used Chameleon’s very affordable and high quality proofreading services for all of my work. You can contact her at:

I’ve contracted my covers through Christina Keats, the acclaimed graphic artist who always completes her excellent work before the deadline. You may connect with her through her Facebook page:

Promotion and Marketing

Writing, editing, ruthlessly seeking the perfect final product… Does that sound exhausting?

Lean closer. Let me whisper in your ear: That was the easy part.

As an independent author, I’ve found marketing and promotion can be the most challenging part of the process for the author. Choosing good, reputable marketing partners can help ease the work. Checking them out includes looking at the number of subscribers and/or followers. My caveat is: how many of them are authors, hawking their work? Is it 10%? 20%? 50%? There’s no way for us to tell. Also remember that large numbers of subscribers doesn’t mean every single one will buy your book. They won’t all make a purchase, download your free book, or purchase the next book in the series even if they did download the first in the series.

A check of Amazon reveals tons of marketing books along the price continuum. At no cost to you, I’ve compiled my experiences.

Why Pay Money to Promote a Free Book?

Giving away your books can be an investment in the future. I offer a book for free at the same time I release the next book in the series. My goal is to build up readers for the first book, in hopes they’ll be interested in reading the second book in the series.

Due Diligence

Pricing, traffic, lead times, etc., change over time. I’m sharing my experiences as of summer 2015. If you want to try the sites, please read through the information carefully. My experiences are not a guarantee of your experiences, either positive or negative.

Remember, some sites may choose not to promote your work. It’s their call.

Regardless of what sites you decide to try, be sure and complete your due diligence. Check to ensure your promotion(s) ran on the agreed upon day(s). Your book might fall through the cracks or the site may experience technical difficulties. Be sure and sign up for the newsletters ahead of time, so you can easily check your day(s).

I found it helpful to use an excel worksheet to keep track.


Traffic: “Thousands of followers”

Lead Time: Information was almost immediately live.

Cost: 1. Free with purchases from the site and book reviews. 2. $8 per book per month. 3. $20 for six months for all of your books.

Authors can register for free. With the free registration, you can set up your author profile. You also get unlimited posting to the author stream.

You can purchase book listings for $8 per book per month.

You can choose to go with a Premium Account. The benefits include: ◾A Great Author Profile. ◾Unlimited Posting to the Author Stream. ◾Promote all your books for FREE. ◾Post Book Samples. ◾Post Articles. ◾Post Self-Promotion Articles. ◾Post Giveaways. ◾Add Profile Video. ◾Add Book Trailers. ◾Author Interview. (Coming Soon)

The Premium Account price is $20 for 6 months.

There is an alternative to the Premium Account price. Instead of paying for a premium membership, you can get it for free by buying books through the site, and then writing reviews.

Once you do your posting, you’ll get an edit key via email. You can go in and make tweaks as needed.

By logging in, you can also see how many times the ad has been viewed.

It does take work on your part, building your profile and adding your books. Although I wasn’t bowled over by the number of views, I found it worth the expenditure.


Statistics: Not listed.

Lead Time: Check site.

Cost: From free and up to $50.

You can submit a free book. If accepted, it’s featured on the site, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ free of charge.

You can also pay for guaranteed daily placement packages from $10 to $50.

Plan #1: This plan is for Free books only and $10 for one day. With Plan #1, you get a guaranteed spot in the daily list of Free ebooks. Your free book will be featured on the daily email list. Your link will be posted to the Facebook page and Google+, tweeted, and added to the Pinterest page.

Plan #2: This plan is for all books for one day for $20. Plan #2 guarantees a spot in the daily email list and prominent static placement in the Featured book spot on the front page (top center). Your book cover and link will be seen on the home page of the website. You will also receive a Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest post.

Plan #3: Includes everything in plan #2, plus a one week spot as the “Book of the Week” in the main slider bar at the top of the page for $35.

Plan #4: Page Takeover. This is a complete one day takeover of the website for $50. You get everything above, plus an interview and a blog post on the site. You also have the opportunity to do a giveaway.

I did submit the free listing. I did have some downloads. It was worth a free listing.


Traffic: 3,200 followers.

Lead Time: Submit the listing 5-7 days before the desired featured date.

Cost: $5 – $15

The Free Book Feature costs $5 per day, and appears on Facebook and Twitter. You can feature it up to three days. The Premium Book Feature is $10 per day, up to three days. You can also add on your book trailer. The last option is giveaways for $15, which I did not try.

Authors can submit one free book and one regularly priced book every 15 days.

The site was having technical difficulties the day of my promotion. The problem appeared to be due to Amazon. They did post the book on their Facebook page, and on Twitter. They offered to run the promotion in the future for free if they didn’t get the technical problem fixed. The site did make it right by agreeing to run it in an upcoming month.

Given the site problems, it was difficult to assess effectiveness. I believe it was worth the $5 a day cost.


Subscribers: 13,700

Lead Time: Up to 60 days in advance.

Cost: $5 for each day of promotion.

The site does require email confirmation first thing.  After submitting your listing, be sure to check your email (and spam box) for your confirmation code.  After submitting the code, your listing will be placed in the Review Queue. If it meets the requirements, then the listing will appear on the requested days.

Important note: If you don’t confirm within 7 days, it’ll be deleted.

To provide readers with the best ebooks, listing priority is based on rating and number of reviews, along with chosen promotions and focus eBooks. The homepage listings are displayed with the highest ‘value’ listings first.  Value is calculated with the proprietary formula.

If you want to promote your listing up in the rankings, you can select a paid promotion option for your eBook.  For details on having your listing near the top on our homepage, please contact us.

The book must have at least a star rating of 3.5 or higher.  The exception to this rule is if your book has no reviews or if the book is Non-Fiction.

I paid $20 for four days of promotion. I found it to be worth the cost.


Subscribers: I didn’t see the number of subscribers listed.

Lead Time: Listing date must be no earlier than 3 days from now, and no later than 60 days.

Cost: Flat $10 for all genres.

Requirements include free from errors and a great cover. There are also length requirements.

Novels should be at least 150 pages (50k words). Novellas should be at least 20k words. Short story collections should have a minimum of 12k words total. Children’s picture books should be at least 30 pages. The book must be priced at $4.99 or less on the day of the listing. The book must be available from at least one major retailer.

The book has to be accepted for promotion.

You can promote the same title as many times as you like with eBookSoda, as long as there is a 60 day gap between promotions. There should be a 2 week gap between titles by the same author. If the listing isn’t selected when you apply and you’d like to resubmit your book for consideration in the future, then wait at least a couple of weeks before reapplying.

I ran my ad for one day for $10. It’s a flat price for all genres. I had steady downloads the day it ran, so I definitely got value for the price.


Traffic: Unknown

Lead Time: Submit at least three days before the free date(s).

Cost: Free – $35

The book must have at least 3 stars and an overall rating of 4.0. The book must be at least 100 pages long. They don’t accept erotica.

The site was having technical difficulties, but it did list my Book of the Day paid promotion.

I had two promotions. One, I purchased a promotion of a non-free book for $35. Two, I requested a free promotion of the free book. I didn’t see the free listing, but hey, it didn’t cost me anything and they were having site problems.

I did recoup the cost of the paid promotion.


Subscribers: “Thousands”

Lead Time: No more than 30 days in the future

Cost: $30 – $60 1. Free and Bargain Books: Pricing is by genre and book price. For example, my free mystery was $30 for one day. 2. Book of the Day: The cost is $60 for a book priced below $2.99.

To promote through E Reader News Today, the book must be available on The site will also promote book deals that are available at Barnes & Noble/Nook, Google Play, Apple iTunes and Kobo. It must be a full-length book of at least 125 pages, with the exception of children’s books, non-fiction, and cookbooks.

The site won’t promote the same book within a 90 day period. However, there aren’t any restrictions on the number of times that an author is promoted.

There is not a minimum number of reviews. However, the site may read the reviews to get an idea of how well the book has been received by readers.

I experienced a good number of downloads.


Traffic: Over 75,000 subscribers and Free Booksy has over 200,000 Facebook fans.

Lead Time: At least 72 hours.

Cost: 1. Free Booksy varies by genre; for mystery, it was $75 for one day 2. Bargain Booksy varies by genre; for mystery, it was $50 for one day

Books don’t have a minimum requirement for reviews, but do go through an editorial process. Of the two, I’ve had better results with Free Booksy. It’s a bit pricy at $75 for one day for my mystery, compared to some other sites, but I think it’s worth it for the exposure. Prices do vary by genre.

If your book is not free, you can consider Bargain Booksy. You can feature one book per month. This is an option for books priced between 99 cents and $5.00. For my genre, it’s $50 for one day. I did break even. I had the book priced at $2.99. I believe it may have done better at 99 cents.


Traffic: 600,000 via apps and 150,000 subscribers

Lead Time: First come, first served. May change a booked date with five business days notice.

Cost: 1. Featured Book ad $100 for a book priced $2.99 2. Free Book Promotion $25.

Free Kindle Books and Tips’ traffic includes 600,000+ people accessing the blog via the free reader app or the Collections app for their Kindle Fire, and 150,000+ people via an e-Ink Kindle subscription, email or social media subscription, or directly on the blog’s website, or via an RSS reader.

Here’s a quote from the site owner:

“Let’s be honest about web marketing: while the above numbers look impressive I am not going to try and fool you, as the reality is although each day’s posts go out to over 750,000 people approximately 100,000 people take action (i.e., read a particular day’s post using one of the methods listed above) each day; it also does not mean I am implying 100,000 people will buy your book.  I’d rather be upfront with you about circulation numbers as I’m not aware of, for example, any Kindle-focused website truly delivering 100% of their hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers for daily posts.”

Unless the book is a new release, it needs to have at least a 4 out of 5 star rating on the Amazon USA website from at least 8 customer reviews – and at least 4 of those need to be Amazon verified purchase reviews; Goodreads, Smashwords, Amazon UK, or other sites’ ratings of the book will not be considered. A book will be rejected if it appears to be a paid or shill review.

I ran a Featured Book ad for $100 for a book priced $2.99. I also purchased a Free Book Promotion for $25. If you want to submit a new release, that option is available.

The site owner’s follow up and follow through was excellent. I also liked his effort to set reasonable expectations. On the negative side, I did not recoup the expenditure on the paid book. I did have the book priced at $2.99. Now, the owner did state that books priced at 99 cents do better. I believe it may have done better at 99 cents. My plan is to try it again at the lower price.


Traffic: 116,000 subscribers

Lead Time: Check calendar for available spots

Cost: Varies by genre; mystery/police procedure/thriller, the cost is $10 – $17

The Fussy Librarian sends 116,000 subscribers a daily email. Contracting with Fussy means the book is featured one time. Remember, the numbers of recipients do vary by genre. The prices page shows the numbers by genre. In addition, the book stays in the searchable database for 30 days, which is included in the fee. Fussy will also contact the author with a “pre-flight check,” to ensure the information for the promotion is correct.

Of course, Fussy is…fussy. The book must have 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating on Amazon OR 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating on Barnes and Noble, 11 to 19 reviews and a 4.0 rating, or 20 reviews and a 3.5 rating. The 10 reviews can be split be among Amazon’s various sites. The book has to be priced at $5.99 or less. Fussy will get back to you in less than 48 hours, to let you know the book is approved.

I’ve had good results, and the price is definitely reasonable.–genre-statistics/


Traffic: 40,000 subscribers and 420,000 app downloads

Lead Time: Check calendar for availability.

Price: 1. Full Promotion: $40 2. Apps Only: $15 Don’t book both packages at the same time for the same campaign as they will obviously overlap.

Genre Pulse focuses on Kindle marketing. They accept free books for promotion, and books priced not higher than 99 cents. I like Genre Plus because they offer the opportunity to track the clicks through their site. The author can easily calculate the return on investment.

There are two packages from which to choose. The Full Promo offers over 420,000 app downloads and 40,000+ email recipients. The price is $40. The second package is Apps Only, with 420,000 app downloads and a cost of $15.

You do have to supply a synopsis of less than 100 words.

You get an email to let you know the promotion is live, and a link to check your clicks. I was happy with the number of clicks, and thought it was money well spent.


Traffic: 23,113 Facebook likes and 4,014 Twitter followers

Lead Time: Allow plenty of time for the pre-work

Cost: Author Spotlight, two days for $60

With Story Finds, you’re going to work hard before you can even schedule a promotion. First, set up a user account. Then, set up your author page. Last, add each your books to your author page, including the blurb and excerpt. You can do copying and pasting from other sites, like your Amazon author page. It doesn’t cost anything up to this point, but it sure is time consuming.

According to the webpage, Story Finds has over 23,113 Facebook likes, over 4,014 Twitter Followers, 437 Pinterest followers (1,400 average daily impressions), and 894 followers on Google Plus. The Reader Newsletter goes out on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with over 6,320 subscribers.

For my promotion, I used the Author Spotlight. With the Author Spotlight, my free book was the only book on the homepage. For $60, Story Finds can book two-day Author Spotlights for Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The one-day Author Spotlight is on Saturday, for $50, but I didn’t try that one.

One advantage is you can log in and make changes after your ad appears. If you see an error, you can easily fix it in nearly real time.

I did recoup the funds, and liked the presentation on the webpage.

Please note: This is just my experience. I don’t represent any website’s interests. I’m merely an indie author, trying to get some recognition for my hard work without blowing up my budget.



A Special Note from Jada

Take the Body and Run Cover Final

I snagged a Kindle Press publishing contract for my new book, Take the Body and Run, through Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. The book is about a hunted woman hiding under a dead friend’s identity, a handsome lawman, a death doctor with fart machine-will travel, and a cranky cat with a nose for crime.

The projected release date is mid-August.

I hope you’ll support me by purchasing it when it’s ready on Amazon. I think you will like it; the book is a contemporary mystery/romance.

Here’s the link to the Kindle Scout profile. The campaign has closed, but the profile includes the description and the beginning of the book.

Thank you!


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